27.04.2022 10:00

Joint statement on climate change and conflict in IPCC report

More than a dozen leaders in the fields of climate science, peacebuilding and security have endorsed a joint statement calling for the links between climate change and conflict to inform a broad spectrum of policymaking and programming.
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IPCC report findings signal need to address compound climate change and conflict risks in policy and programming

The IPCC Working Group II contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report published in February 2022 titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability contains important findings on the links between climate change and conflict emerging from recent research: climate change does contribute to increased risk of conflict, along indirect pathways and strongly mediated by socio-economic and political factors.[i] Following the report publication, however, some political actors have over-simplified and downplayed this evidence, implying that peacebuilding policy should not be concerned with climate change. We therefore find it necessary to emphasize the following points.

First, while the IPCC report underlines the prime importance of socio-economic conditions and governance in driving conflict risks, it simultaneously shows that these conditions themselves are subject to climate change.[ii] Fragile contexts in which socio-economic and governance challenges are most pronounced and protracted are often facing disproportionate climate change impacts, which further exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities.[iii] Just as climate change adaptation and mitigation measures should not ignore conflict risks, peacebuilding efforts cannot and should not ignore the effects of climate change on key drivers of conflict.

Second, the IPCC report further finds that climate change adaptation and mitigation have great potential to serve as peacebuilding measures, including by facilitating dialogue and cooperation between conflicting parties towards a common goal. Risks of conflict can also be reduced by promoting climate-sensitive economic activities along with women's self-determination, for example.[iv] A contrast between climate adaptation as a means of promoting either peace or sustainable development, as some have made following the publication of the IPCC report, is therefore not only misleading, but often spurious.

The complexity of interactions between climate change and fragility must not be an excuse for inaction. The extent to which there is a general causal relationship between climate change and conflict is not the critical question to which policymakers need an answer before engaging. Equipped with a context-specific understanding of how climate change and societal factors interact to increase conflict risks, policymakers should neither postpone nor prevent action to support those vulnerable members of our global community that face the compound risks of climate change impacts and governance-related threats to human security. 

Prevention is better than cure. A forward-looking climate-and-conflict sensitive approach can help reduce future losses and damages while supporting truly sustainable development and promoting peace and stability. The international community should pursue such an approach across climate change, conflict prevention and peacebuilding policies and programming, specifically by:

  • integrating environmental protection and climate-sensitivity into conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts;
  • ensuring that finance from across the security, sustainable development and climate change remits reaches fragile contexts;
  • building conflict-sensitivity into climate adaptation and mitigation measures, especially in fragile contexts and throughout the project cycle;
  • promoting international cooperation to mitigate the risks of instability associated with climate change, mitigation and adaptation;
  • conducting locally informed climate-security risk assessments, particularly in fragile contexts, and integrating the findings of these into early warning systems, development cooperation and peace-building operations;
  • listening to local communities, experts and civil society organisations in affected regions, and ensuring that, along with quantitative data, qualitative data on how climate and fragility risks interact informs policymaking.

It is also crucial that commitments to reduce emissions and make climate finance available are fulfilled.

Addressing the climate-security nexus is an essential component of climate justice. The international community should do whatever it takes to protect those who have contributed the least to the climate crisis, and already face the greatest risks to their lives and livelihoods, from the terrible prospect of violent conflict.

Signed by:

  • Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
  • Dr. Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Plataforma CIPÓ
  • Cynthia Brady, Senior Advisor and Global Fellow, Environmental Change and Security Program, Wilson Center
  • Alexander Carius, Director, adelphi
  • Dr. Adam Day, Director of Programmes, Centre for Policy Research—United Nations University
  • Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • Dr. Comfort Ero, President & CEO, International Crisis Group
  • Andrew Gilmour, Executive Director, Berghof Foundation
  • Prof. Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development, Independent University Bangladesh
  • Michael Keating, Executive Director, European Institute of Peace
  • Dr. Peter Läderach, Co-lead CGIAR FOCUS Climate Security, CGIAR
  • Ambassador (ret.) Wolfgang Ischinger, President of the Foundation Council, Munich Security Conference Foundation
  • Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, Head of Special Projects, Office of the Executive Director, Institute for Security Studies
  • General Tom Middendorp, Chairman International Military Council on Climate and Security (IMCCS)
  • Lieutenant General (ret.) Richard Nugee, Senior Research Associate, Climate Change & (In)Security Project
  • Coral Pasisi, Senior Advisor to Director General of the SPC, The Pacific Community (SPC)
  • Prof. Laurence Tubiana, President and CEO, European Climate Foundation
  • Prof. Dr. Johan Rockström, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)
  • Dr. Shenggen Fan, Dean of Academy of Global Food Economics and Policy, China Agricultural University
  • Christophe Hodder
  • Benedetta Berti

 

 

 

[i] Quotations from the IPCC report that deal with the relationship between climate and conflict are gathered in the document in annex, provided by the multilateral climate-security initiative Weathering Risk and available online here.

[ii] IPCC, 2022: Summary for Policymakers [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, M. Tignor, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem (eds.)]. In: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

 

[iii] Caretta, M.A., A. Mukherji, M. Arfanuzzaman, R.A. Betts, A. Gelfan, Y. Hirabayashi, T.K. Lissner, J. Liu, E. Lopez Gunn, R. Morgan, S. Mwanga, and S. Supratid, 2022: Water. In: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.

 

[iv] Cissé, G., R. McLeman, H. Adams, P. Aldunce, K. Bowen, D. Campbell-Lendrum, S. Clayton, K.L. Ebi, J. Hess, C. Huang, Q. Liu, G. McGregor, J. Semenza, and M.C. Tirado, 2022: Health, Wellbeing, and the Changing Structure of Communities. In: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press.